How to Start a Newsletter - A Step-by-step Guide
Looking to start a newsletter but not sure where to begin?
Then don’t worry. It’s a lot easier than you think and it won't cost an arm and a leg!
Newsletters are a widely used tool in digital marketing, with an average of 127 business emails sent per user every day. The open rate for email newsletters is around 21.33%, indicating a significant level of engagement.
Furthermore, 31% of B2B marketers say email newsletters are the best method for nurturing leads. So, you’re definitely on the right track with starting a newsletter as part of your marketing strategy.
In this article, we'll cut through the confusion and provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to start your own newsletter:
Step 1: Develop Your Email Newsletter Strategy
If you've read the title and thought to yourself, "But why do I need a strategy? Can't I just start sending out emails?"
Well, the answer is yes, you can start sending out emails without a strategy.
However, having a solid plan in place will make your newsletter more effective and help achieve your goals.
To develop your email newsletter strategy, take the following steps:
1. Define your niche
First, you need to decide what your newsletter will be about.
This ensures you’re not jumping from topic to topic, where you’ll end up with a scattered, disorganized newsletter.
Think about what topics or themes you are passionate about and knowledgeable in, and then consider who would be interested in that content.
For example, if you are a food blogger, your niche may be meat-free cooking or healthy eating.
2. Identify your target audience
Once you have defined your niche, it's time to think about who your target audience is.
While you can simply target anyone and everyone who likes food (using the previous example), it's better to dig deeper and get specific.
Think about their demographics (age, gender, location) and psychographics (interests, values, behaviors). Are they foodies looking for trendy new recipes? Busy parents searching for quick and healthy meals? Vegans looking for plant-based options? Perhaps they're even a combination of different groups.
Write down a list of characteristics that describe your ideal reader, i.e. 25-35 year old females who are passionate about healthy eating and love trying new recipes.
3. Establish your newsletter's goal
Every digital marketing strategy needs a goal, whether it's an online advertising or social media campaign, or an email newsletter.
Ask yourself what you want to achieve with your newsletter.
Is it to drive traffic to your blog or website? Build relationships with your audience? Increase brand awareness or to generate new business leads?
If you aren't sure, evaluate your overall business goals and how your newsletter can align with them. For example, new businesses may use newsletters to build brand awareness and generate leads. Meanwhile, established businesses may use newsletters to nurture relationships with their existing audience.
4. Plan your content and frequency
With your topic, audience and goal in mind, it's time to start planning the content itself.
What type of content will you write about?
Will it be exclusive tips and tricks, in-depth blog posts, promotional content, or shorter copy like success stories or product updates?
Again, knowing your target audience's preferences i.e. short and snappy video content for teenagers or in-depth articles for professionals, can help you shape your newsletter's content.
Lastly, consider your newsletter's frequency - will it be sent out weekly, or twice a week? Perhaps a round-up once a month is enough to keep your subscribers engaged.
If you don't have concrete data on your audience's preferences, test out different frequencies to see what gets the highest click-through rates.
Alternatively, you can follow industry standards, which is no more than twice weekly and at least once a month. According to marketingsherpa, '61% of consumers want to see at least one email a week from brands they follow.'
Keep these stats in mind when deciding on your newsletter's frequency.
5. Add a CTA
A strong call-to-action (CTA) is essential for every newsletter. This is where you clearly state what action you want your audience to take after reading your newsletter.
So, if you want them to check out your ebook, include a link or button that directs them there. If you want them to follow you on social media, provide links to your profiles.
Remember to keep your CTA concise and clear, and use action-oriented language such as ‘Click here for more information’ or ‘Sign up now to receive exclusive updates’.
Just ensure your CTAs don't distract from the main content of your newsletter. They're simply there to guide your audience towards the desired action.
Step 2: Select a Email Marketing Platform
Sure, you could manually collect all of your subscribers' email addresses, put them in a spreadsheet, and then send all of your emails via Outlook or Gmail.
But let's be real, that's a tedious and inefficient process.
Furthermore, if you're sending out a large volume of emails, you may run into issues with spam filters and deliverability.
This is where newsletter software comes in.
Newsletter software not only streamlines the process of sending emails but also provides you with tools for designing attractive emails, managing your subscriber list, and analyzing your newsletter' performance.
When choosing an email marketing platform, consider factors such as pricing, user-friendliness, email design options, and analytics capabilities. Some popular options include Mailchimp, and Brevo.
Ultimately, the right newsletter software for your brand will depend on your specific needs and budget. Do some research and choose the one that best fits your goals.
Step 3: Make an Email List
Of course, in order to send emails, you need to have a list of subscribers' email addresses.
But how do you go about collecting them?
To kick things off, use your existing contacts and customers from your website, social media platforms, or in-person interactions. This gives you a solid subscriber base who are already interested in your brand and may be more likely to engage with your emails.
However, if you don't have any subscribers or simply want to expand your list, try these other methods:
Promote on Social Media: Announce your newsletter on your social media platforms, and invite followers to sign up. You can also use paid promotion options on platforms like Facebook and Instagram to reach a larger audience.
Create Lead Magnets: A lead magnet is something of value that you offer in exchange for someone's email address. This could be a free ebook, checklist, or online course related to your industry or brand.
Incorporate Content Marketing: Create high-quality blog posts or videos that have CTA's (calls to action) prompting viewers to subscribe to your newsletter for more valuable content.
Host Giveaways or Contests: People love a chance to win something, and hosting a giveaway or contest can be a great way to attract new subscribers.
Attend Networking Events: In-person events are a great opportunity to connect with potential subscribers and spread the word about your newsletter.
Remember to always make the sign-up process simple and easy for subscribers. Don't ask for too much information, just their name and email address is usually enough. And most importantly, be transparent about what they can expect from your emails in terms of content and frequency.
Step 4: Create Your First Email Newsletter
Now it's time to get down to actually creating your first email newsletter.
Depending on the email marketing platform you choose, the process may vary slightly, but here are some general steps to follow:
- Choose a Template: Most email marketing platforms offer various pre-designed templates for you to choose from.
- Customize the Design: Make sure your newsletter design matches your brand and is visually appealing.
- Add Content: Write interesting and engaging content that will catch your subscribers' attention and keep them coming back for more. A good subject line and preview text are super important for getting your emails opened.
- Include Images and Videos: Visual content can make your newsletter stand out from the rest, substantially increasing engagement. To include videos, create a thumbnail that links to an external URL of your video, i.e Youtube.
- Test and Preview: Before sending out your newsletter, make sure to preview and test it on different devices and email clients to ensure it looks great everywhere. Your email marketing platform should have a preview and testing feature to help with this.
- Segment Your List: If you have different types of content or products, consider segmenting your email list to target specific groups of subscribers.
Remember to always keep your subscribers' interests in mind when creating content for your newsletters. Keep it relevant, engaging, and personalized to increase open rates and drive conversions.
Step 5: Analyze Key Metrics and Improve
So, a few days have passed since you sent out your newsletter.
Now you can analyze the data and see what really caught your audience's attention. Was it the engaging articles, short-form videos, or those special offers?
If you've got closed-loop analytics, you can track how many readers clicked through to your website and even converted into customers or leads. This data instantly tells you what resonates with your subscribers and what can be improved upon.
To track your progress, you can look at key metrics such as:
- Open Rate: The percentage of subscribers who opened your email.
- Click-Through Rate: The percentage of subscribers who clicked on a link within your email.
- Conversion Rate: The percentage of subscribers who completed the desired action (e.g. made a purchase, filled out a form) after clicking through from your email.
- Bounce Rate: The percentage of emails that were not successfully delivered to subscribers.
- Unsubscribe Rate: The percentage of subscribers who opted out of receiving your newsletter.
Regularly check these metrics and see how they change over time. This will help you identify patterns and make data-driven decisions to improve your newsletters.
This guide provides a comprehensive yet concise overview of how to start and manage a successful email newsletter. Remember to consistently provide valuable content, personalize your messages, and track your progress through analytics. By following these best practices, you can build a strong connection with your audience and achieve your email marketing goals.